If your child has a severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction, it is important to understand how to use an epinephrine, or epi, shot, usually from an injectable device such as an EpiPen(R), in a shot pack. An epi shot is easy to administer and will help save your child's life.
You should also devise an anaphylaxis action plan with your allergist, says Dr. Hemant Sharma, M.D., director of the Food Allergy Program at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. Go to foodallergy.org/faap to print out instructions that you can share with others.
Your child needs to hold still during the injection. If she cannot, have another adult hold your child. If you are alone with your child, lay him down and then lay down across his chest to keep him still. Use one hand to hold a leg and the other hand to give the injection.
After you have given the shot, there will be liquid remaining in the injector. This remaining liquid does not mean that you should re-inject your child. It is normal for liquid to remain. Be sure that your shot pack is always with your child. Teachers and caregivers should always carry the pack and be confident giving this shot.
You can also ask your pharmacist for a shot trainer to help you and your child practice how an injection will be given. Practicing and discussing the shot with your child before an emergency can help your child be a willing participant.
The epinephrine shot can be effective only if the medicine is still potent. Epi shots do not need to be refrigerated, but they do need to be kept at room temperature and away from direct sunlight. There are three instances when the shot pack should be replaced: If the liquid in the injector is no longer clear, if particles are floating in it, or if the expiration date on the shot pack has passed, throw out the pack immediately and get your prescription refilled.
EpiPens expire after about a year, and the soaring price (more than $600 for a two-pack) has made it tough for some families, especially those on a high-deductible health insurance plan, to pay for refills. Fortunately, Bobby Q. Lanier, M.D., executive medical director of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, recommends several new safe and less expensive options.
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